1,200 scientists call for lockdown REVERSAL ahead of 'Freedom Day' despite 81 MILLION vaccine doses being administered
MORE than 1,200 leading scientists have called on the Government to pull the brakes on 'Freedom Day' and branded the government’s decision to unlock “unethical”.
A coalition of doctors and health experts wrote to medical journal The Lancet to express their concern despite nearly 81 million vaccine doses being given out.
The signatories, which include four SAGE members, claim that Downing Street is pursuing a policy of “herd immunity by mass infection” which is “unscientific”.
In the letter, they warned that millions more adults would need to be double-vaccinated before the virus is allowed to spread freely through the population.
Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton accused Professor Chris Whitty of “wilfully misrepresenting scientific opinion” when he claimed that there was widespread backing in the medical community for Mr Johnson’s decision.
Their intervention came after Boris Johnson yesterday confirmed Step Four of the government’s roadmap would go ahead from next Monday as planned, despite a growth in cases fuelled by the Delta variant.
Britain today recorded 36,660 positive cases – the highest figure in six months. Deaths jumped by 50, marking a slight uptick on last Tuesday’s figure of 33.
But fatalities have remained low relative to infections. The last time the UK recorded over 37,000 cases on January 21, fatalities jumped by 1,292.
The UK’s vaccination programme is also continuing to surge ahead, with 54,296 first doses given out yesterday and 125,360 second doses doled out.
Over 34 million Brits are now double-jabbed, with nearly 81 million doses given out in total.
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All legal Covid restrictions will end from July 19, with social distancing regulations and mask mandates among the measures to be scrapped.
However the government will still encourage Brits to wear masks in enclosed spaces or busy transport hubs.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the The Sunday Telegraph anyone who would not wear a mask in an enclosed space was "just being irresponsible".
And in a marked shift in tone from last week, Mr Johnson stressed on Monday that the government’s roadmap was not “irreversible” – hinting that measures could be reintroduced if the UK sees a Winter surge in hospitalisations.
Modelling by SAGE yesterday claimed there could be as many as 4,800 daily Covid admissions this summer if the UK rushes back to normality next week.
But the scientists also believe that the public will be responsible over the summer, and admissions will peak at between 1,000 and 2,000 a day with daily deaths reaching a maximum of between 100 and 200.
One scientific adviser today said that a return to full lockdowns was unlikely this winter as the vaccine would continue to act as a buffer against hospitalisations.
Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, said he thought measures such as mask-wearing could be reintroduced over the winter.
Professor Semple said the "winter bump" of Covid cases would be "miserable" due to a mixture of Covidand the respiratory viruses that have not been seen for the last year as people stayed at home.
Asked on BBC Breakfast whether restrictions would come back, he said: "Possibly, and it may just be about reinforcing some common sense.
"It may be bringing back some mask-wearing in certain environments, but I don't foresee the lockdowns or the school suspensions that we've seen."
Meanwhile, chief secretary to the Treasury Steven Barclay suggested this week that the lifting of restrictions next week could be reversed if the expected wave of infections is as bad as some scientists predict.
He told Sky News: “We have been cautious in order to seek for [lockdown easing] to be irreversible. One never knows what [the situation] will be in the winter. The vaccine has provided that wall.
“An extra 7million vaccines have been delivered as a result of the extra four weeks (by delaying the original Freedom Day that was scheduled for June 21).”
But he stressed that it was time for Brits to learn to “live with the virus” and businesses needed clarity on reopening.
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